Cast Iron

Peking Style Chicken with Pan Roasted Grape Hoisin

October  9, 2012
4 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

What do you do when you have a mean craving for Peking Duck, but no chance of getting one at the moment? Invent something with the crispy, earthy, salty, sweet, spicy, cool, crunchy flavor notes from things you already have in your fridge and pantry! Chicken thighs aren't quite duck, but their dark meat and crisp-friendly skin do the trick. And pan roasted grapes make a great base for homemade hoisin. And, add a few whole, for silky fragrant pillows to gild the lily. I didn't feel like fussing with making pancakes, so I deconstructed the whole dish and served it with wide rice noodles tossed with cucumber shreds, scallion and toasted sesame. It's an easy way to tide me over til my next trip to Chinatown. —EatArt

Test Kitchen Notes

My entire house was filled with a beautiful aroma when I cooked this dish. Chinese-inspired cooking is not something I do often, but this recipe was easy and the results were impressive. The tip on drying the chicken and pricking it (I used the point of a knife) was great -- the skin came out extra crispy. Cooking down the grapes took a bit longer for me than I had expected, so next time I will start that step first, before getting to the chicken. The Hoisin sauce is fantastic, and there was plenty leftover to use on other dishes. It'd be great on grilled pork! —MsNiagara

What You'll Need
  • Peking-ese Chicken with Pan Roasted Grape Hoisin
  • 4 chicken thighs (skin on)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons five spice powder
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 bunch roughly chopped scallions
  • 2 cups red seedless grapes
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons red miso
  • 1 teaspoon molasses
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • Cucumber Rice Noodles with Toasted Sesame
  • 8 ounces dried wide rice noodles
  • 1/2 peeled and finely julienned cucumber
  • 1 bunch chopped scallions (white & green parts)
  • 1/4 cup shredded radish (optional -- but its slight bite is nice)
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 1-2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1-2 teaspoons soy sauce
  1. Peking-ese Chicken with Pan Roasted Grape Hoisin
  2. Prick skin on chicken thighs and dry their surfaces with a tea towel. This helps to produce a nice crispy skin. Sprinkle both sides with 1 teaspoon of five spice powder, salt, and pepper.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of peanut oil in a cast iron skillet, until oil shimmers. Add chicken thighs, skin side down, to pan. Don't move them once you lay them down. This helps your quest for crisp. After 5 minutes, cover pan and let cook until chicken is easily moved and no longer sticking to pan surface. That's how you know you got your crisp.
  4. Turn thighs over to cook on the other side. Add 1 tablespoon each of chopped ginger and garlic to pan. After 5 minutes, cover and let cook until cooked through.
  5. Meanwhile, add remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil to another skillet over medium high heat. Add grapes and pan-sear them. Add remaining five spice powder, garlic, and ginger. Reduce heat to medium and pan-roast the grapes until they are reduced in volume by about half their original size.
  6. Remove half of the grapes from pan and set aside. Continue to cook remaining grapes until they fall apart and reduce down to a thick syrup.
  7. Mix together the soy sauce, miso, cayenne, molasses, and vinegar. Add roasted grape syrup. Voilà -- homemade hoisin! Add whole roasted grapes and mix gently.
  8. To assemble, place chicken thighs atop a bed of Cucumber Rice Noodles with Toasted Sesame. Spoon hoisin over top. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and chopped scallions.
  1. Cucumber Rice Noodles with Toasted Sesame
  2. Add noodles to a pot of boiling water, cook until al dente and drain.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and gently toss. And you're done!
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • EatArt
  • kaleandsalt
  • plainhomecook
  • RebeccaKaren

11 Reviews

kaleandsalt October 12, 2013
I love the homemade hoisin sauce! I've come back to it multiple times for other dishes - right now I'm prepping some for steamed buns with pork shoulder tomorrow. The sauce tastes much more like hoisin after the flavors have a chance to meld so I try to give it a day or two in the fridge.
EatArt October 27, 2013
thanks so much! So glad you like it! The pork idea sounds great! Can wait to try! We just ran the recipe again on our new website BeautifulNow ( because we featured a whole week of posts devoted to beautiful grapes. If you check it out, would love to know what you think!
plainhomecook December 27, 2012
This dish is full of wonder - compared to restaurant or commercial hoisin which is usually cloying, this sauce announced its separate components of sweet, sour, spicy, and salty - and mingled beautifully with the crispy chicken skin and the silky noodles with zippy vegetables.

But - roasting the grapes for the syrup made for the single messiest pan I have seen in nearly 40 years of cooking. I mean, this stuff isn't just baked on, it's WELDED. Did I do something wrong? Is there an easier way that doesn't involve either sandblasting my saute pan or tossing it?
EatArt October 27, 2013
Eek! So sorry! I just saw your comment -- 10 months later!! My bad. If you are still interested in trying the recipe again, my recommendation would be to panroast the grapes for less time. You still want them to hold some of their shape. Another idea would be to oven roast them. Use a Silpat or a well oiled foil liner. So glad you liked the recipe even with the mess. :)
plainhomecook October 27, 2013
Hi EatArt, it was so delicious that it didn't dissuade me and the dish is in regular rotation now. The pans still end up messy but I do roast them for a shorter time, and it turns out that soaking in boiling water and soap takes care of it.
EatArt October 27, 2013
Great! One trick I use for burnt on stuff is: fill pot with water, add 2 tbs of dishwasher powder and 1/4 cup vinegar. and boil for about 10 mins. Turn off heat. Cover pot. And leave overnight. In the morning, most of the tough stuff will slip right off. If you have any residue, just repeat! Works like a charm. We also featured this recipe on my new website BeautifulNow ( If you are interested, check it out. Would love to know what you think!
RebeccaKaren October 18, 2012
Love the use of grape hoisin - inventive and delicious!
EatArt October 19, 2012
thanks! Just found that it is also delish with prunes. Having fun messing around with this recipe. :)
starkdesignny October 16, 2012
My wife and I cooked this the other night for dinner and it is such an inventive way to have the flavors and experience of Peking duck without actually making it! We substituted the rice noodles for rice but otherwise the flavors are wonderful. Thank you for this dish, I'm sure we'll make it again soon!
EatArt October 19, 2012
Glad you are enjoying! But do try the wide rice noodles. They are such a luscious texture: silky and chewy, against the crisp of the veggies and crunch of the sesame.
starkdesignny October 14, 2012
This looks so delicious!